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Books for mothers

Mama Bear Apologetics 

Ed. Hillary Morgan Ferrer

This book asserts that parents—not the church—have the primary responsibility to train their children how to think Biblically. The authors seek to harness mothers’ protective instincts (since they often spend the most time with their kids) by equipping them to address the cultural lies their kids encounter in worldviews like self-helpism, naturalism, postmodernism, and pluralism. A “Mama Bear” apologist is able to discern the good and bad; present a Biblical perspective; and reinforce with discussion, discipleship, and prayer. Each chapter ends with prayer points and discussion questions. 

Afraid of All the Things

Scarlet Hiltibidal 

Fear gripped Hiltibidal as a young girl when her parents divorced and her security evaporated. As she aged, it included everything from her appendix bursting to tornadoes, cancer, and home security. She writes with humor, honesty, and a unique perspective as the daughter of a Saturday Night Live cast member and adoptee of a SWAT cop and, later, a pastor’s wife and adoptive mother to a deaf girl from China. As she better understood the gospel, she realized she couldn’t fix or protect herself and began to overcome her anxiety: “Fear is still here, but it is defeated.”

The Brave Learner

Julie Bogart

Most parents want their children to love learning, but they stick closely to traditional methods of measurement, such as grade levels. Bogart, a veteran homeschooling mother of five, thinks this is problematic. She encourages mothers to add “enchantment”—surprise, mystery, intrigue, and adventure—to their homeschool routines. The book gives helpful tips about altering the home environment and family practices to facilitate more connections and enjoyable learning experiences. It also represents a growing emphasis on child-directed learning within the homeschool movement: As children get older, parents in their role as educators should be “collaborators,” not dictators.

The Burden Is Light

Jon Tyson

Culture pressures us to perform, achieve, and accumulate: One Manhattan mother told Tyson and his wife that their son would be disadvantaged if they put him into the wrong kindergarten. But this book urges readers to consider the wonder of God’s grace. It contrasts the world’s tyranny of comparison, competition, control, cursing, complacency, judgment, pride, and distraction with the freedom of calling, compassion, surrender, blessing, passion, mercy, humility, and presence. Tyson challenges readers to live “the way that produces the fruit of the Spirit … and the fruit of the kingdom as a preview of the life to come.” 


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Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Immigrants at Ellis Island
Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


Immigrants and others

A look at the church’s historical perspective

Evangelicals and Immigration by Ruth Melkonian-Hoover and Lyman Kellstedt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) gives good historical perspective on varying Protestant responses to immigration: welcome, evangelism, settlement, and pushback.

For decades Baptists and Presbyterians were “particularly active at the southern border, establishing churches and services for primarily Mexican migrants” who went back and forth across the border and would sometimes “share their newfound Protestant faith with others upon return to Mexico.” Many Chinese immigrants also returned to their homes after several years in America, so B.W. Johnson, editor of The Evangelist, did not want to “prevent them from coming to our shores. The Christian should hail [Chinese immigration] as a means of carrying out the commission of his savior and sending the gospel to China.”

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Four classic books

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the early pages of The Great Gatsby, tragic hero Jay Gatsby embodies the zeitgeist of the Roaring ’20s. He rises to wealth and prominence in New York City through dubious business dealings. Unlike many in the Jazz Age, though, he hopes for something greater than material success, and he binds that hope up in his illicit love interest, Daisy Buchanan. Narrator Nick Carraway brings a slightly more wholesome, Midwestern perspective to the book’s East Coast debauchery. But with no transcendent hope in sight, Fitzgerald’s tale ends as a secular Ecclesiastes, making plain the vanity of life without God.

The Screwtape Letters

C.S. Lewis

Christian professor and author C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) published this book of 31 letters during World War II. Addressed by a senior demon named Screwtape to his understudy, these letters cleverly turn right and wrong inside out, referencing God as “the enemy” and hell as “Our Father’s house.” Screwtape gives his understudy detailed, practical advice on how to turn a Christian away from God. In each brief chapter, Lewis reframes topics like prayer and family relationships in light of spiritual warfare, chronicling how pride and selfishness make us vulnerable to attack. A quick, conversational read worth revisiting.

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

In April of 1719, author, spy, and pamphleteer Daniel Defoe reinvented the travel journal and (debatably) invented the English novel with his book Robinson Crusoe. Protagonist Crusoe ends up shipwrecked on a Caribbean island, facing storms, cannibals, and mutineers. Providentially, he finds a Bible in the wreckage and reads Psalm 50, “Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou wilt glorify me.” Crusoe’s newfound faith takes root in hard soil. Sadly, Crusoe’s salvation doesn’t affect his low view of dark-skinned people or his participation in the slave trade. Note: Some current editions leave out Defoe’s Christian reflections.

Evidence That Demands a Verdict

Josh McDowell

Why do you believe the Bible is true? Since its publication in 1972, apologist Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict has helped Christians answer that question. Through careful study of archaeological and historical evidence, McDowell shows why we can trust the Bible: “Not only do we have what was written down [by original Biblical authors], what was written down was true.” With more than 800 pages of material in the 2017 revision, the book works best as a reference book, not read cover to cover. The 2017 version, co-authored by McDowell’s son Sean, also includes helpful insights on pre-evangelism for a generation skeptical about truth.

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